Following the style of our Pope Francisco, a priest from the North China is reaching out to a mission 3200 kilometers away in Yunnan Province, to attend to the pastoral needs of the Miao ethnic group. The Miaos are an ethnic group living mostly in mountainous areas of southwest China.
Our friend and colleague, Fr. Peter Wei has the missionary spirit and heart to reach out to the needy. He studied Scripture in Salamanca (Spain) and now works in Inner Mongolia, a province in northern China. He is also our collaborator and assists us in our publishing ministry as a translator, when time permits (from Spanish into Chinese). Currrently, together with two other priests who also did their studies in Spain, he is translating the Spanish title of the Pope Francisco, "Open Mind - Believing Heart" into Chinese. The book will be ready in a couple of months.
Some facts about Yunnan:
The Province of Yunnan has over 40 million inhabitants. Its territory covers an area of 394,100 km ². It is located south of the country and has border crossings with Tibet, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. Yunnan has the highest number of ethnic groups among all provinces and autonomous regions in China. Among the country’s 56 ethnic groups, 25 are found in Yunnan.
Yunnan became part of the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD) during 2nd century BC. It became the seat of a Tibeto-Burman speaking kingdom known as the Kingdom of Nanzhao in the 8th century AD. The Mongols conquered the region in the 13th century, with local control exercised by warlords until the 1930s. As with other parts of China's southwest, Japanese occupation in the north during World War II forced a migration of majority Han people into the region. Ethnic minorities in Yunnan account for about 34 percent of its total population. Major ethnic groups include Yi, Bai, Hani, Zhuang, Dai and Miao.
Its geography is varied: mountains on the border with Tibet and large valleys in the lowlands. The highest point in the province is the Kagebo peak altitude of 6740 meters while the lowest is in the Honghe River Valley at a height of 76.4 meters above the sea.
Fr. Peter Wei writes his missionary experience:
Thanks to dear Alberto for the interest you have shown for the Catholics of Miao and Yi. They really are living witnesses of faith. These few lines are about the experience I had in that remote land:
Three years ago I started visiting the Catholics of Miao and Yi ethnic groups in Yunnan province, near the border with Vietnam, living in conditions of extreme poverty; struggling to meet the bare minimum conditions to survive, without any assistance and social security.This area was evangelized by foreign missionaries of Paris. Some of these remote regions did not have a priest for over 40 years, but still maintain the Catholic faith handed down through family traditions. Upon arriving there, we were surprised to witness both their lives, and especially their religious fervor for the Catholic faith.
Many young people knew that their parents were baptized by priests, and also knew how to say some of the traditional prayers and knew their Christian names. But, they did not know what is mass, nor the fundamental contents of catechesis, but know they are Catholic.
A hug from Peter Wei